It’s been a strange old time since Boris Johnson said those now infamous words, “you must stay at home”. Overnight we were sentenced to house arrest and compelled to reinvent our social norms and work routines. Shopping at the supermarket became a leisure activity, social gatherings were replaced with Zoom pub quizzes and our innate need for physical contact constrained by obligatory social distancing. 

So how has the HSO team coped during these unprecedented times? How have we managed to maintain our mental wellbeing whilst also maintaining momentum with our customers, our projects and our overall company vision? The truth is it hasn’t always been easy, and we certainly wouldn’t profess to having all the answers. However, a few things have helped to smooth the transition, ease our worried minds, and engender positivity in a precarious period.

A life in lockdown caught on camera

This short video shows what some of our employees got up to in lockdown and the creative ways they have kept themselves and their families entertained.

Communication is key

Communication has always been the bedrock of a successful organisation and this has been no different in the times of the Coronavirus. With businesses closing, staff furloughed, and jobs at risk, it’s safe to say we all harboured a certain degree of anxiety at the start of this crisis, and even today, as green shoots of normality start to appear on the horizon.  Our leadership team recognised this early and the solution was simple: honest and frequent communication. There was no hiding the truth, no revisionist versions of reality, just an accurate depiction of the situation and an honest appraisal of how we could come out of it together. Ever since lockdown was introduced on 23rd March, and up until the ‘HSO 2020 Virtual Re-boot’ on 19th June, our leadership team have provided a weekly company update covering everything from the sales pipeline to the furlough policy. This may seem like an obvious measure to implement, but the sense of being informed of and involved in the decision-making process gave us all a sense of control and security, alleviating our anxieties.

Our methodology helped us adapt

Methodology was another fundamental factor which allowed HSO not only to survive the crisis, but to thrive. As it became clear that lockdown was for the long term and that remote working was to become the new norm, we went to work to change our Best Practices and our Excellerate methodology to allow for this new mode of working. After 3 successful go lives during lockdown, it’s safe to say that this was a resounding success and our customers can now feel safe and secure that projects can be delivered in this way, and business benefits realised.

Never stop learning

HSO also invested heavily in the Learning & Development program to tackle the lockdown challenge and prepare for the future. As a business we managed to secure 67 new Microsoft certifications during lockdown, by far and away more than any other UK partner. This has enabled us to stay at the forefront of Microsoft technology, and continue to serve our customers with innovative solutions to their business problems.  

Taking staff engagement to new levels

Finally, with our entire workforce working remotely, HSO knew that employee engagement was more important than ever before. Lockdown robbed us of chit chat with colleagues at the water fountain, or a pint after work to wind down and relax, and so we needed to find ways to replace these social interactions. We immediately put an engagement team together and planned a number of regular activities to address our social needs. We had a weekly film club, a book club, and regular pub quizzes …we had weekly yoga sessions and even baking lessons with our very own baking expert. We made sure all teams met (virtually) once a week to discuss anything other than work. We put policies in place to give people regular breaks and ran monthly competitions to give everyone some much needed escapism. While seemingly small initiatives in isolation, this engagement strategy helped bring people together and keep sprits high.

And as we gradually come out of lockdown like hedgehogs rising from their hibernation, we look to the future with a cautious optimism. We have weathered the storm and can see a “new normal” on the horizon. While no-one knows exactly how the future will pan out, we can rest assured that technology will still be instrumental in helping businesses thrive and that HSO is prepared for the challenge ahead.

Dan Rosehill
Senior Recruiter